All About My Mother centers on Manuela (Celia Roth in a fine performance), a registered nurse and supervisor of organ transplants at a hospital in Madrid. She is a single mother to her beloved son Esteban, an ambitious young writer. After attending a stage performance of A Streetcar Named Desire for Esteban's birthday, he is hit by a car after pursuing the lead actress, Huma Rojo, down the street for an autograph. Weeks later, a still distraught Manuela journeys to Barcelona to seek out the boys father, formerly Esteban also, but now a transsexual junkie named Lola who is dying of AIDS. She firstly reunites with an old friend of Lola's, an enthusiastic transsexual prostitute, finds work with Huma Rojo as her personal assistant and reveals the tragic story of her son, and befriends a pregnant nun (Rosa, played by Penelope Crus) who works in a shelter for battered prostitutes. Rosa is bearing the child of Lola also. Manuela's life entwines with all of theirs as she takes care of Rosa in her home during her pregnancy, and even acts in Streetcar when Huma's drug-riddled understudy is indisposed.
This is a poignant, absorbing and richly textured feminine drama that tackles some pretty serious themes, notably AIDS, transsexualism, celebrity and womanhood. It is beautifully performed by the entire cast, Almodovar's direction is assured and the score is an eclectic mix. It is also exuberantly aware of it's own artistic merits, featuring homage (parody?) throughout to All About Eve and Streetcar. Memorable and not to be missed.
My Rating: 4 1/2 Stars